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Building boss warns over skills shortages

THE head of one of Scotland's ­largest privately owned construction companies has warned skills ­shortages will stop the sector taking full advantage of the nascent green shoots of recovery.

WARNING: CCG chairman Alastair Wylie says skills shortages will affect future growth in industry. Picture: Chris James
WARNING: CCG chairman Alastair Wylie says skills shortages will affect future growth in industry. Picture: Chris James

Alastair Wylie, chairman and chief executive at Glasgow-based CCG, believes his company is in a good position as it has retained a directly employed workforce of around 600 as well as an annual apprentice intake of around a dozen throughout the downturn.

He said: "We understood that coming out of recession we needed to have the structure and resource to maximise on that.

"There were some difficult decisions we had to make but it is now beginning to fertilise. We are now seeing significant signs that tell us the good days are coming on."

Mr Wylie predicts it will be another year before the recovery in the construction industry is fully embedded but he has seen more consistency of output across the past 18 months.

Yet he remains convinced many of his competitors will be in a poorer position than they could have been as a result of the cost cutting measures they took during the downturn.

He said: "We have engaged with our supply chain over the past year to make sure they know we will need their resource going forward. We believe our supply chain will see the merits of us standing by them and our staff [through the recession].

"I would say to the market you really need to back the right horse which has the resource to carry through a development programme.

"Those that have failed to invest and thought they were being cute by not spending money in recession are the ones that are going to be slower to pick up."

Research from the Scottish ­Building Federation, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the past year has suggested the construction sector could be facing skills shortages across the next five to 10 years.

There are a number of factors involved in that including thousands of older workers being due to retire, scores of people lost to the industry during the recession and fewer apprentices and graduates being taken into the sector.

Last month's Scottish Construction Monitor found 69 per cent of firms surveyed expected to recruit apprentices in the next 12 months but many expressed concern about a lack of suitable candidates.

Earlier this month the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for construction showed output in May remained strong but had slowed to its lowest level in seven months.

CCG has worked on high profile projects such as the Athletes' Village for the Commonwealth Games, the revamp of the long derelict Kelvingrove bandstand and the restoration of the Olympia in Bridgeton in recent years.

It has previously worked on Celtic Football Club's Lennoxtown training complex.

Along with general construction work it has a timber frame manufacturing arm, a windows and door making division as well as flooring and roofing sections.

CCG recently added a nightshift and created 40 jobs at its timber frame off-site manufacturing facility in Glasgow as a result of increasing demand from the industry.

Mr Wylie added: "We see there is a market out there and we are well positioned to attract new customers in that marketplace.

"The structure has been maintained so we are not bringing in new faces to learn new things."

CCG (Holdings) reported a 17 per cent increase in turnover from £109.7 million to £128.9 million in the 12 months to March 31, 2013.

Annual accounts filed at Companies House for that period show pre-tax profits rose from £11.9 million to almost £13 million.

According to its annual return the company is majority owned by Mr Wylie with Bernard Rooney the other shareholder.

Mr Wylie said he is hopeful of increases in turnover and profit in the years to come.

Contextual targeting label: 
home improvement

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